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Compact System Cameras seem to have appeared from nowhere to take a large chunk of the consumer camera market. The niche for which they were designed, originally by Panasonic, was supposed to be quite small – people who liked the quality and flexibility of a DSLR camera, but who didn\’t like the cumbersome weight and equipment they felt they had to carry around with it. In short, they didn\’t think it would attract the DSLR purists, who enjoy the craftsmanship side of photography, or the compact user who just wanted a point and shoot style camera. How wrong they were. Panasonic made the equivalent of a dashing little sports car, light, exciting, full of advanced features and great to look at.
CSCs can be so small and light because they don\’t have a mirror or prism in the body of the camera. The Mirror (or prism) either deflect or reflect the light coming in through the lens so that the photographer can see the image through the viewfinder. Without a mirror, the image is only visible on the back screen and there is no viewfinder. It also means that the minimum thickness of the body is much smaller. They can easily slip into a pocket or purse.
Indeed, with a small lens (sometimes called a pancake lens) the modern CSC can easily be as slim as a compact. However, they can boast the same, or even better functionality than many DSLRs. They come with their own range of lenses, though in some cases it took manufacturers some time to produce them, as they were taken by surprise by the popularity of their CSC models. You can use standard lenses if you wish – most manufacturers offer an adapter – but you might lose out on some of the functions, like autofocus for example.
Most CSCs come with he standard pancake lens, but other, longer lenses are quickly becoming available. They tend to range be a zoom up to about 40MM and then a longer zoom up to about 110MM. Partly because the industry have been so surprised at the success of these cameras, they have been a bit slow in fulfilling lens requirements, but more are on the way.
The CSC range have certainly enlivened the camera industry – which was in danger of taking itself too seriously. Having removed the now antiquated mirror system, designers have been given a free hand and developed some amazing functions that challenge and excite photographers. Some are designed for the multimedia generation – the ability to make favicons for you social media pages for example, whilst others are just fizzing with potential – like the Nikon V1\’s 60 FPS burst rate. They have also been able to test some groundbreaking technology before it finds its way into DSLR models.
In the few years since CSCs were introduced, they have established themselves as excellent cameras for both the purists and the funsters. Their innovative technology is often well ahead of what you would find on a DSLR and are often so novel they leave you wondering at their potential (what can you do with 60FPS?). Their size and practicality have made them firm favorites and it is predicted that they will outsell conventional DSLRs in the next few years.
Jason Tandy has worked in the photography industry for over two decades. He has a particular interest in digital photography and good cameras. Learn more about the best digital slr cameras available from his camerawize site. It is regularly updated and can help you take better photographs.